Joined-up Data Standards

The Joined-up Data Standards project, implemented in partnership with Publish What You Fund and supported by the Omidyar Network, seeks to change the way standards that govern development data are designed and investigates how competing standards can be reconciled. The aim is to achieve greater interoperability of data to improve decision-making and accountability.

Joining up data standards is important because it allows us to unlock the immense potential of data to help drive poverty eradication and sustainable development. In recent years, more and more valuable data is becoming available, but much of it can’t be turned into useful information because it is being published in different formats, to different standards or on different platforms.

With our partners Publish What You Fund, we aim to improve how standard-setting bodies, data producers and data users collaborate to make their data interoperable and easily comparable with other data. We do this by exploring how data can be joined up and by bringing stakeholders together to find solutions to common problems.

Our work

We have published a number of discussion papers that highlight problems caused by incompatible standards. We have also developed an online thesaurus that provides mappings between competing standards.

In 2016 we published From Principles to Practice: a consultation paper on joined-up data standards, which forms the basis of our engagement with stakeholders, including major international standard-setting institutions.

Key recommendations from the paper are:

  1. New standards must be joined up: there is no reason for new standards to be created that unnecessarily duplicate existing standards or that do not build on existing components and methodologies.
  2. We need joined-up leadership: an integrated leadership body to drive the data revolution and transformative agenda forward is essential.
  3. We urgently need translation services: all standard setters must recognise the benefits to data users when data from different standards is ‘cross-walked’ through a translation machine.

Find out more about the project by visiting our Joined-up Data Standards website.

We encourage anyone interested in contributing to our work to contact us.